If You Sit At A Desk All Day, The Dead Hang Exercise Is For You

Many smartwatches and fitness trackers these days come equipped with a timer that tells you to get up and move every hour. You could turn it off, but you might reconsider if you want to stay healthy. According to a 2016 article in The Lancet, sitting for more than four hours a day increases your risk of death. Yet, if you exercise 60 to 75 minutes a day, you can somewhat mitigate this increased risk.

You're not alone if you find yourself sitting for more than eight hours a day, according to a 2018 article in JAMA. The study found that 25% of people in the United States sit this long, and 40% of people don't get any exercise. 

You might notice some physical effects of sitting for a long time, such as tension in your neck, shoulders, and back, according to Medical News Today. Sitting too long also slows your metabolism and blood flow to the legs. 

Even if you have a desk job, getting up a few times for a quick walk or stretch can break up the effects of sitting too long. Once you leave your job, find a pullup bar and hang for about 30 seconds to decompress your spine and give a nice stretch to the muscles of your upper body. It will also open up those tight shoulders after sitting all day.

How to do a dead hang

You don't need to join a gym to do dead hangs. You can find pull-up bars online that mount around a door frame without any nails or damage to your door. These portable pullup bars can give you a nice stretch while at the office or as you wind down when you come home. If you use one of these, be sure you can reach it easily without needing to jump. If not, use a sturdy bench, step stool, or chair so you can grab the bar easily.

Your arms should be wider than the width of your shoulders, and your palms should face away from you. Be sure your grip is strong as your arms begin to bear your weight. If you're standing while holding the bar, begin to shift one foot off the floor at a time by bending your knees. If you're on a bench or chair, slowly step off one foot at a time. Your arms should be straight as you feel the muscles of your back and arms lengthen. Hold for 10 seconds at a time at first, but aim to hold for a solid minute (via Healthline).

Other ways to combat sitting all day

Although doing sets of dead hangs won't help you attain enough exercise to counter the effects of sitting all day, a 2020 article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says that 30 to 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity can reduce the risk of death associated with being sedentary. You can easily get this amount of exercise every day by taking walks or riding your bike, according to Medical News Today.

You can also prevent the harmful effects of sitting all day by getting up every hour and walking around. Rather than sending an email to a colleague, you can walk to their office and talk to them in person.

Some exercises at your desk can ease some of the stiffness associated with sitting, according to Iron Health Physical Therapy. While crossing your arms at your chest, practice sitting up from your chair five times in a row. Because your hip flexors get tight while sitting, stretch them by turning your body 90 degrees from your chair and scooting towards the edge of your chair. Drop the outer knee until it reaches the floor while your opposite glute remains on the edge of the chair. Press the top of the foot of the lowered leg into the floor to feel a stretch at the top of that thigh.